San Francisco City Hall. (Mike Koozmin/2015 S.F. Examiner file photo)

San Francisco City Hall. (Mike Koozmin/2015 S.F. Examiner file photo)

Special Board of Supes meeting showcases political divide

There was perhaps no better image of City Hall’s political divide than the attendance at Friday’s special Board of Supervisors meeting.

Only the six progressive board members who called the meeting showed up where they voted to bypass the usual legislative process after criticizing moderates for bottlenecking — or posing such a threat — proposals related to the November ballot.

The five moderates on the board did not attend.

It was the first time in at least the past 15 years that a special board meeting was called by six members of the board. Usually when they are called — which is still a rare move — it’s by the board president.

That’s why some around City Hall were calling this maneuver a political power play, or more colorfully a palace coup.

But progressives said they had little recourse as the deadline looms to place measures on the November ballot. They argued that while they have a board majority, Board of Supervisors President London Breed chose earlier this year to create board committees run by moderate majorities.

Breed denounced the move Thursday in a text message. “Politics at its worse [sic] and I’m not going to be a part of it,” she wrote.

Peskin, however, said Breed was nothing but cordial when he told her about it and he offered no apologies Friday for employing the parliamentary tactic, saying he was only “using rules that have existed for many decades to ensure the majority rule – it’s a democratic meeting with the majority of the body.”

As for the moderates’ no-show to the 5:15 p.m. meeting, Peskin said, “It would be collegial had they shown up but it’s their right not to show up and I respect that.”

One moderate, Supervisor Mark Farrell, offered a statement for why he was absent: “I was spending time with my family.”

The unusual legislative tactic bolstered the progressive bloc’s political leverage and ensures two ballot measures put forward by that political camp can make the deadline to end up on the November ballot in the form they desire.

Those measures are a public advocate charter amendment proposed by Supervisor David Campos and a charter amendment proposed by Peskin that would create a commission to oversee the Mayor’s Office of Housing as well as Economic and Workforce Development.

The special board meeting lasted about 30 minutes. In the end, the board voted 6-0, with Campos serving as acting board president, to pull from the board’s Rules Committee the housing commission measure and schedule special board meetings — including one on July 29, the deadline to place charter amendments on the ballot — to ensure Campos’ version of the public advocate measure can make it to the November ballot.

The committee, chaired by Supervisor Katy Tang, sent an amended version that Campos opposed to the full board last week. Supervisor Malia Cohen was the deciding vote on that three-member committee.

Friday’s vote gives Campos time to amend the measure back to the version he supports.

Additionally, the board voted to pull from committee Peskin’s pledge resolution that would set a policy to not put on the ballot any homeless related measures, which takes aim at Farrell’s homeless encampment measure as progressives and some homeless advocates are trying to convince Farrell to remove it.

That homeless encampment measure has also become tied up in a debate over whether the board will place on the November ballot the mayor’s proposed .75 percent sales tax hike, which goes before the board Tuesday.

“What we are doing here today is very important,” Campos told the San Francisco Examiner after Friday’s vote. “It’s about what will get to be on the ballot. It’s unfortunate that we are where we are but at the end of the day we each have a job to do and that’s what we are trying to do here.”
Aaron PeskinBoard of SupervisorsDavid CamposEric MarJane KimJohn AvalosLondon BreedNorman YeePoliticsSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Charles Joseph, who is represented by the San Francisco Public Defender’s office, is facing deportation to Fiji. <ins>(Courtesy photo)</ins>
Giving immigrants a second chance after incarceration

Legislation would allow some faced with deportation a chance to challenge their old convictions

The San Francisco Police Department released body camera footage of the alleged assault on Dacari Spiers. (Via SFPD Body Cam)
SF police officer to stand trial for assault over baton beating

A San Francisco police officer who prosecutors say unnecessarily beat a man… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed announced The City’s return to the red tier for COVID-19 precautions at Pier 39 on Tuesday<ins>, March 2, 2021</ins>. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
San Francisco enters red COVID tier, indoor dining to resume

Museums and gyms can reopen with capacity limits

Cole Odin Berggren, community programs director and drum and DJ instructor at Blue Bear School of Music in The City, holds a JackTrip device, which he says has greatly improved students’ experience of making music online. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
COVID-era musicians beginning to make connections

Software eliminates pesky delay plaguing most systems

Under the new plan, Twin Peaks Boulevard would be reserved exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists until Christmas Tree Point.	(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board approves new plan for Twin Peaks Boulevard

Cuts vehicle-free space by half. Neighbors say crime, vandalism will still abound

Most Read